The modern economy is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role—but women were not its author
Camille Paglia writes: If men are obsolete, then women will soon be extinct—unless we rush down that ominous Brave New World path where females will clone themselves by parthenogenesis, as famously do Komodo dragons, hammerhead sharks, and pit vipers.
A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment. Ideologue professors at our leading universities indoctrinate impressionable undergraduates with carelessly fact-free theories alleging that gender is an arbitrary, oppressive fiction with no basis in biology.
Is it any wonder that so many high-achieving young women, despite all the happy talk about their academic success, find themselves in the early stages of their careers in chronic uncertainty or anxiety about their prospects for an emotionally fulfilled private life? When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honor their commitments. And without strong men as models to either embrace or (for dissident lesbians) to resist, women will never attain a centered and profound sense of themselves as women.
From my long observation, which predates the sexual revolution, this remains a serious problem afflicting Anglo-American society, with its Puritan residue. InFrance, Italy, Spain, Latin America, and Brazil, in contrast, many ambitious professional women seem to have found a formula for asserting power and authority in the workplace while still projecting sexual allure and even glamor. This is the true feminine mystique, which cannot be taught but flows from an instinctive recognition of sexual differences. In today’s punitive atmosphere of sentimental propaganda about gender, the sexual imagination has understandably fled into the alternate world of online pornography, where the rude but exhilarating forces of primitive nature rollick unconstrained by religious or feminist moralism.
The new paternalism is so nonconfrontational, anti-ideological, and unwilling to claim moral authority that it can hardly be called “paternal.” Let’s call it “maternalism”…
Nancy McDermott looks at the cultural assault on masculinity
‘Nanny and Sammy followed their mother’s instructions without a murmur; indeed, they were overawed. There is a certain uncanny and superhuman quality about all such purely original undertakings as their mother’s was to them. Nanny went back and forth with her light loads, and Sammy tugged with sober energy.’ (From ‘The Revolt of Mother’ by Mary E Wilkins (1)).
“…what we are seeing today is the dismantling of the historic gains of the Enlightenment in the name of The Mother”
The idea for this essay began percolating about a year ago, when I reviewed Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men. She made the case that women are achieving parity with men and even surpassing them in a number of important ways. Although I didn’t quite buy all her explanations, I liked Rosin’s book and was sorry to see so many reviewers dismiss it in what seemed like a rush to reiterate the persistence of women’s oppression. I thought her observations were reasonable, but more importantly they seemed to throw the contours of something else into relief, something beyond gender roles. It was only when I began to look at the question of paternalism that it dawned on me what this might be.
Paternalism has emerged as the dominant form of authoritarianism in our society. Across the world, policymakers are quietly working behind the scenes to save us from ourselves, nudging us towards Jerusalem with smaller fast-food cups, architecture intended to make us climb more stairs, and maternity wards that encourage bonding and breastfeeding. These policies are seldom debated or even noticed. When they are, the routine argument is not whether they are a good idea but how ‘hard’ or openly coercive should they be. Why value autonomy at all when people, left to their own devices, continually make poor choices that foil their aspirations and create a social burden in the process?
Cristina Nehring writes: Last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review is called “Let’s Read About Sex,” and apparently it’s caused a small stir. This is ironic because we’re at a stage in literary debate where the most original thing we could do with sex just might be to shut up about it.
We live at a moment where most lovers would be more ashamed to let on that their sex-style was (gasp!) “vanilla” than that it broke a couple of teeth. Married people are far more likely to feel guilty for not having enough sex than for having too much. “Regular sex is a part of every healthy life-style!” we are told everywhere, often in the same pages that we’re told to eat our vegetables, and by the same parties who instruct us to get cardiovascular exercise. Only the sex advice is more binding than the rest: When we skip out on a gym session or a serving of broccoli we can at least feel a little mischievous, a little naughty. If we skip a serving of sex, we only feel like a big bore, a stick in the mud. And as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, most people would far rather be considered evil than dull.